Recently Featured Essays:  

Tao of Poo

by Mara A. Cohen Marks

My home is an oasis of beauty and order, but as much as I enjoy it, I spend most of my time in my head. Which sometimes feels like a dangerous neighborhood.

That’s why I’ve started meditating. It’s a remodel for my internal landscape.

I’m carving out time each day to just sit quietly. No multitasking, no worrying about the future or rehashing things that happened in the past. Just paying close attention to what’s happening right now, moment by moment.

And in this moment, I’m perched in a lovely half-lotus atop my brand-new meditation cushion. Although my eyes are closed, I know the cushion complements my bedroom’s decor. Its curry color looks quite handsome against the wheat-colored background of my antique wool rug from China. This pleases me. What’s more, although my eyes are closed, I know the brand-new standard poodle napping beside me atop my antique wool rug from China will not shed. This also pleases me.

In point of fact, the poodle’s eight years old, so it’s only brand-new to me. My daughter was the main reason there’s a poodle in my bedroom. She’s wanted a dog for the longest time. “Oh Mommy, see that fluffy dog? Isn’t it cute? Please, can I have a dog? Someday? Or at least a fish?” But every time my daughter said, “dog,” I envisioned slobber on my silk upholstery, scratches on my glossy black floors, and fleas in my Egyptian cotton sheets. I felt like a failure as a mother, more concerned with maintaining the museum-like atmosphere of my home than with my daughter’s happiness. 

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God's Vagabond

by Tom Darin Liskey

If you compared Buddy Burch’s Christian ministry to the high-flying evangelism so prevalent in America these days, you’d probably conclude that his was a flop. Burch and his wife Lydia rarely had a head count topping more than ten in the storefront church he pastored near a brake repair shop in Waveland, Mississippi. 

Unlike the financially well-oiled megachurch-malls dotting the country, the members of Burch’s mixed congregation, mainly poor blacks and whites, had to dig deep in their pocketbooks for a Sunday offering. More often than not, the loose change and crumpled dollar bills these salt-of-the-earth kind of believers tossed in barely covered the bottom of a collection plate. 

Yet Burch was not into that hard sell religion of pledges and fund raising. He just didn’t believe that it was his job to admonish people over money. Burch had realized long ago that the people who came to his small church gave what they could, and he’d always trusted God for the rest. That was no stretch for a couple well into their sixties living off a fixed-income and disability. 

The Sunday offerings were usually enough to cover the light bill and other expenses, and Burch never drew a salary from the funds. To help make ends meet, he would park his pickup on the side of the road to sell firewood from the tailgate.

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What I Know about Dads

by Sharon Frame Gay

What I know about dads fits into a 3 x 5 photograph, ragged, faded, and dog eared on one corner as though someone was trying to save the page for eternity. The photo was taken by the shore of a lake. He sits in a chair, with me firmly planted on his lap, a child of few months still sporting my milk teeth. The wind is rustling his hair. His eyes squinted into the camera and the sun. My tight ringlets must be tickling his nose as the wind tosses my hair like a dandelion.

He is a handsome man, Irish as Paddy's Pig, as they say, with dark hair, light brown eyes, an athletic build. There is an assurance about him, the kind of confidence one exudes after fighting in the South Pacific during the war. His gentle fingers wrap around my body, though I can imagine that in another life they may have thrown hand grenades or clutched his cross in violent prayer in a distant foxhole.

He was a gifted skater, a bar room brawler, a sweet talker, with just a hint of cruelty at the corner of his mouth, coiled like a sleeping snake. He met my mother when she was home from college one December, a restless young woman looking for somebody to waltz her around the frozen pond and warm her feet by the makeshift fire in the moonlight. By spring thaw, they had married and began a life together, a life filled with chaos and drama, long nights at the pub, the scent of other women.

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